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Creamer captures LPGA's tourney of champions by eight strokes

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pink Panther won in style.

Paula Creamer, complete with pink outfit, hat and ball, ran away with the Tournament of Champions on Sunday in Mobile, Ala., winning by eight strokes.

"All of my other tournaments that I won have been with the white ball," Creamer said. "So, this was a little extra added pressure I put on myself with that, but I'm glad I won with my pink ball."

The 21-year-old Californian closed with her second straight 4-under 68 to finish at 20-under 268 -- a stroke off the tournament record set last year by Lorena Ochoa.

Creamer earned $150,000 for her second victory of the year and fourth in three seasons on the LPGA Tour. She joined Ochoa (seven) and Suzann Pettersen (five) as the only multiple winners on the tour this year.

Birdie Kim (68) was second at 12 under, and Annika Sorenstam (70), Natalie Gulbis (68) and Pat Hurst (72) tied for third at 10 under in the event for tournament winners from 2004 to 2007 and active Hall of Famers.

HSBC

Phil Mickelson glanced at the gleaming trophy on his left, rolled his eyes and broke into a sheepish grin.

"I cannot believe I'm here as the champion right now," he said.

Here's why.

Lefty overcame six penalty strokes in the final round, blew a three-shot lead with seven to play, and still won Sunday's HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, China, on the second hole of a three-way playoff with Englishmen Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood.

The victory in Asia's richest tournament earned Mickelson $833,000. It was his fourth victory this season, and it also gave him a tournament title that Tiger Woods has failed twice to win.

Fisher, ranked No. 141, went to 18 with a one-stroke lead over Mickelson. Trying to reach the par-5, 538-yard hole in two, he landed his shot in deep rough to the left of the green. He chipped his third onto the green, but it bounced through and rolled into the water hazard on the opposite side. He took a penalty drop and needed a chip and two putts for a double bogey to finish at 74.

"I never thought after hitting in the water I had a chance," said Mickelson, whose win in China was only his second outside the United States, and first since he won in France 14 years ago.

Westwood, nine strokes behind Mickelson after three rounds, made six birdies on the back nine -- and missed two other opportunities on 17 and 18. He finished with a 67 and was in the clubhouse relaxing when he was called back for the playoff.

"I can't remember a final hole like this," said Mickelson, who made a 4-foot birdie putt at the second playoff hole to eliminate both Englishmen.

Fisher had already played four shots when Mickelson holed out. Westwood dumped two in the water and was out of it when Mickelson dropped the winning putt.

-- The Associated Press


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